Have you ever stood in your kitchen and realized there was nothing to eat that fits in your weight-loss program? I sure have. I think I had a problem with not only meal planning but also shopping for healthy staples that I could use in different ways for meals, snacks, and desserts.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 20 weight-loss staples that I always have on hand—and you should, too.
Go ahead and buy those packs of precut vegetables that your grocery store offers. You’ll be more likely to stir-fry them, throw them into soups, or eat them with some hummus if you don’t have to cut them up first.
Pre-washed Organic Salad
I love pre-washed organic salad because I’m a busy mom of seven and I’m all about saving time and eating healthy. I use the greens in smoothies, salads, and wraps.
In-Season Fruits and Vegetables
It’s important to have lots of fruits and vegetables on hand. When they’re in-season, they’re less expensive, taste better, and stay fresh longer.
Making your own broth is great, but sometimes you just don’t have time. Buy a low-sodium broth to have on hand for soups, flavoring pasta or rice, or making a low-calorie roux.
Low-Calorie Cheese Sticks
These little cheese sticks aren’t just for kids. Buy some lower-calorie cheese sticks to eat when you want a few calories and sustained energy.
Dessert doesn’t need to be off-limits when you’re losing weight, but high-calorie desserts should be severely limited. Fruit popsicles often have less than 100 calories.
Dark Chocolate Squares
I’m a chocolate fan, but I knew better than to have M&M’s or other candy in the house when I was trying to lose weight. Having individually packaged dark chocolate squares gave me a treat that was relatively low in calories and good for my health.
I cook dried beans when I have some down time, then freeze them for later. You can get great prices on dried beans at a local co-op or in the bulk bins at your grocery store.
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Having a supply of fresh or frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts on hand is great for your diet. I use them in stews, soups, casseroles, salads, stir-fries, and wraps.
Lean Beef or Turkey
Unless you’re a vegetarian, lean beef and turkey are good weight-loss staples. Low in calories and versatile, they’re both excellent sources of protein.
Don’t roll your eyes at frozen vegetables. These are terrific in soups, steamed, or in stir-fries. Make sure to buy vegetables that don’t have any high-calorie sauces added to them.
Eggs are high in protein, low in calories, and make a great snack or main dish.
Be careful with the calories in nut butters (such as peanut butter), but a little bit of your favorite type gives you healthy fats and helps you stave off hunger.
Like nut butters, coconut oil is high in calories. Still, it’s great to use while stir-frying vegetables or baking. Remember that 1 tablespoon has about 120 calories.
Yogurt is one of those life staples that also works well for weight loss. Choose plain yogurt and flavor it yourself with fresh fruit or granola.
Oats are good for your cholesterol levels, plus they’re super-filling and easy to prepare. I like to use oats for overnight oatmeal, granola bars, and muffins.
Quinoa, Couscous, Whole Wheat Pasta
Whole grains are filling and not your enemy. The right kinds of grains are a staple because they give you fiber, fill you up, and are extremely versatile. Just stay away from processed grains like white flour and regular pasta.
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices can make even the most boring chicken breast taste delicious. Stock up on your favorites and consider growing some in small pots.
Milk or Milk Substitute
I’m not a fan of milk but if you like it, by all means include it in your diet. If you avoid cow’s milk, try almond or soy milk.
Sweet potatoes are like candy to me, even without a sprinkle of brown sugar. You can bake them, roast them, or even boil them.